Embrace Metal Element With This Roasted Five Spice Cauliflower Recipe

by Travis Metzger |

Embrace Metal Element With This Roasted Five Spice Cauliflower Recipe

The ancient Chinese believed that the seasons have a profound cyclical effect on human growth and well-being and that we are influenced by climatic changes and should live in harmony with them.  For example, as summer yang draws to a close, we may be aware that fall and winter yin are just around the corner and so our body and mind, day by day, make gradual adjustments.

If one lives in a climate with cold winters, it is necessary that the blood be thicker as the weather grows cold.   Consciously preparing for this change can help make the winter a time of beauty and comfort instead of the time to dread. A part of this process involves selecting and preparing foods based on the seasons.

The flavor of food according to Chinese Dietary Therapy is sometimes difficult to describe as it provides insight into the therapeutic dimensions and actions of the food.  The system of flavors developed by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners does not always correspond with the taste.

Flavors for Metal Element: Pungent & Sour, Yang & Yin

For the season of autumn the metal element corresponds with the pungent taste. Using specific flavors can not only create balance but can also bring a person in harmony with seasonal influences. Pungent spicy or hot flavors are yang with warming expansive properties that stimulate circulation of energy and blood and move energy upwards and outwards.  We can stimulate digestion and disperse mucus conditions that can be brought on by the common cold or flu.

Sour has yin and cooling qualities that can cause contraction. Sour foods can draw us into harmony with the fall, the time of gathering and harvesting and the beginning of the period of contraction with the onset of cooler weather.  Healthy people, in order to maintain balance, will require mostly sweet harmonizing foods, while sprinkling in a little pungent and sour foods only as necessary.

In Five Phases doctrine, metal corresponds to the fall, pungent flavors, and the color white. We are embracing the season with cauliflower - the ultimate white vegetable. Cauliflower is “neutral to cooling and sweet.” It aids digestion, generates fluids, and quenches thirst.  The pungent, spicy flavors of the kimchi and five spice drive out pathogens to give protection against upper respiratory pathogens.  

A Look at the Ingredients through a TCM Lens

We love ingredients and flavors that have depth and Chinese black vinegar is a simple way to add depth to any recipe.  Chinese culture considers it to be a health tonic, made from unpolished rice and fermented for up to three years, this vinegar is dark and has an intense flavor.  

Vinegar has a sour and sweet flavor which energizes the stomach and liver meridians, assists with digestion and moves blood stagnation.  Vinegar is warming, detoxifying and can immediately increase circulation which can help with blocked physical or emotional energy.

Dairy foods such as yogurt provide a rich source of nourishment and while overconsumption can lead to the accumulation of phlegm and dampness, incorporating them into your diet periodically they are strengthening for the yin, blood and Qi and can effectively nourish deficiency in the body.

Your sense of smell detects the essence of food which is associated with the metal element and lungs.   The appetite is stimulated here by the warm fragrance of roasted concentrated five spice.

cauliflowerMark Twain said that cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education, we know for sure that it
is in peak supply in the fall, has a sweet and slightly bitter flavor which can help tonify and regulate the stomach, spleen and both large and small intestines.  It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibiotic and antiviral with impressive amounts of vitamin C, K and beta carotene. Many believe is has anti-cancer properties. We recommend it as an excellent choice for the fall.  


roasted cauliflower ingredients

Roasted Five Spice Cauliflower with Flavors of Kimchi and Chinese Black Vinegar

Serving Size

About 2-3

Prep Time / Cook Time

10 minutes / 30 minutes


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • ½ -1 Teaspoon five spice
  • 2 Teaspoons black vinegar
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ⅛ cup spicy kimchi
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Break down the cauliflower into flowerettes, leaving just a bit of stem, toss with oil, season with salt, pepper and five spice and roast at 450 degrees for 25-30 min or until edges darken.

In food processor bring the yogurt, black vinegar and kimchi together.

The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.

Dining with Culinary Artist Travis Metzger is an unforgettable experience. You can taste the passion, creativity and culinary expertise in each of Travis’s one-of-kind recipes. Most would agree that Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs in their original form taste less than delectable, but Travis has proven that TCM for today can taste great with DAO Labs. Travis develops unique flavors for each DAO formula to complement the proprietary blend of herbs and their health benefits. After extensive training at the New England Culinary Institute, Travis ran some of the finest restaurants across the country before starting his own in Minneapolis. To survive the stresses and physical challenges of the kitchen heat, Travis focused on combining natural ingredients for healthy AND delicious eating and juicing.

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